Ecuador has long appealed to expats and we have a solid group of international residents scattered throughout the nation. The family that lives next door to me hails from Australia. I buy my hearty European-style bread from a German fellow. And my family and I rented our first apartment from a woman from Spain.
With record breaking snowfalls this winter in many parts of North America, my husband Michael and I are betting that many folks are dreaming of escaping to somewhere warm and tropical. Perhaps even dreaming of that vacation home they are going to have someday.
Since leaving our all-American life in 2013, with three kids in tow, my husband, Ron, and I have spent time in 28 countries and counting. More than half of our time wandering the globe has been rent free, which saves us an average of $2,500 a month…approximately what our home in Seattle, with utilities, cost monthly.
I'm going to let you in on a secret. There exists a beautiful, small city full of friendly locals, lovely buildings, and interesting parks. Its climate is akin to the southern coast of California with comfortably warm summer days and only an occasional need for a sweatshirt in the winter.
The original plan was to try out retirement abroad—a short test drive. But after just a few months on Panama’s Pacific coast, Rex, 77, and Colleen Swanson, 68, were ready to stay for at least two years.
A blue sky, blue-water scene is unremarkable in the tropics. But this is Europe. I’m in southern Spain, on Murcia’s Costa Cálida—the "warm coast." Whoever thought up the name wasn’t exaggerating. Summer temperatures soar above 90 F, and there’s an annual dose of at least 320 days of sunshine. On the coast, spacious furnished rentals are $508 to $635 monthly.
When I came to Ecuador five years ago, deciding where exactly to settle down was the dilemma that my family and I faced. Eventually we landed on Cotacachi and we feel we've found that sweet spot of locales. Here's why.
We were young retirees, aged 55, when my husband, Mark, and I retired to Ecuador in 2010. At the time, there were just a handful of expats roaming the cobblestone streets of Cuenca. Gringo sightings were rare and we’d point and whisper, “look, there’s an expat.”
Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, located high in the Andes mountains at 9,350 feet, is the highest capital city in the world. It is also one of the most dramatically situated, hemmed in by encircling peaks and volcanoes. But, like most large cities, it has rush hour, traffic pollution, and less salubrious neighborhoods.
For more than three years, my wife, Rita, and I have lived in Ecuador without any form of Ecuadorian health insurance. When we first arrived, we checked into getting private plans, but we found them to be a little difficult to use, and questioned whether they were worth the expense.